Raiders relying on surging Lynch


Raiders relying on surging Lynch

OAKLAND – Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch’s third carry of the game went 51 yards for a touchdown. Kelechi Osemele pulled to clear a path on the right side, Lynch busted through into open space and galloped into the end zone without much resistance.

Consider the play vital in Sunday’s 24-17 victory over the New York Giants. It was his longest since Dec. 21, 2014. It kickstarted an inconsistent Raiders offense playing without Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.

It wasn’t his best play of the day. That came on 3rd-and-7 early in the fourth quarter, with the Raiders up just a field goal. That’s when Lynch went full Beast Mode.

Derek Carr found Lynch in the flat, with a defender bearing down. He looped left around one Giant, cut right past another. He ran over the next man up, while carrying somebody else on his back. He trudged another 10 yards after that, with a pack trying to bring him down. Vintage Lynch took 21 yards in total on a play, one that belongs on a highlight reel.

It’s something he often did during golden years in Seattle. It’s something he’s doing more and more down the stretch.

“He’s getting stronger as the season goes on,” running back DeAndre Washington said. “It’s hard to tackle that man for four quarters, you know what I am saying? He is going to wear you down regardless if he is getting two yards or the 50-yarder like he busted today. He is going to wear guys down and at this point in the season we are really going to need him.”

That was especially true Sunday, with so many skill players out. Lynch came through with 101 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, with two more catches for 20 yards. It fits a recent trend of Lynch running strong.

He has 68 carries for 292 yards and four touchdowns over his last four games, averaging 4.3 yards per rush in that span. There’s an easy dividing line in production there. Lynch was just okay, maybe a bit worse, early in the year.

The break isn’t hard to find. There has been a difference in production after he returned from a one-game suspension. Lynch missed the Week 8 loss to Buffalo as punishment for making contact with an official in a Week 7 win over Kansas City. Head coach Jack Del Rio has referenced a post-Buffalo change in Lynch several times, including Sunday night.

“I’ve seen a little more pep in the step,” Del Rio said. “There’s a little more…I can’t speak for him, I just know what I see. It’s been good. I welcome it, and we’re taking full advantage of it.”

It wasn’t just the suspension. Lynch took some time adjusted to the Raiders scheme, and the coaches and blockers to him, early in the year. That adjustment period has wrapped, and Lynch seems to feel more comfortable with his runs.

“He’s finally getting his legs back under him, and it’s showing,” said linebacker Bruce Irvin, Lynch’s teammate in Seattle. “You can tell.”

Lynch didn’t speak for himself after the latest win. He used colorful phrasing to say couldn’t talk due to a random NFL drug test, and didn’t return to the locker room.

The Raiders can see an uptick in production and comfort, and plan to capitalize on it down the stretch.

"He’s running hard, so he’s more confident, and it’s only going to get better from here," Osmele said in an interview with "He’s rolling right now, so we have to keep doing our job up front and keep him rolling like that.”

Arden Key signs, entire Raiders 2018 draft class now under contract


Arden Key signs, entire Raiders 2018 draft class now under contract

The Raiders drafted nine players back in April. Now they’re all under contract.

Third-round edge rusher Arden Key was the last to ink his rookie deal, putting pen to paper on a four-year rookie deal Friday morning.

Key will make an estimated $3.57 million over the league of the deal with a $834k signing bonus, per athletic salary site

The current collective bargaining agreement and its rookie wage scale makes signing draft picks far easier, with little wiggle room to negotiate deals.

The Raiders locked up their last rookie the day after the offseason program’s conclusion. NFL teams largely go quiet during this time, until training camps begin in late July.

The Raiders are excited about Key’s potential. The LSU product believes he’s a first-round talent who dropped due to off-field concerns and a drop in his 2017 production over the previous year.

Key has flashed great athleticism, quickness and bend. He could make an immediate impact as a third edge rusher behind Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.

“Arden Key,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said, “has got some special pass-rush ability.”

Reports: Raiders WR Martavis Bryant's standing with NFL in question

Reports: Raiders WR Martavis Bryant's standing with NFL in question

The Raiders gave up significant draft capital to acquire receiver Martavis Bryant. The trade cost a third-round pick, something the Silver and Black were willing to sacrifice for a game-breaking talent missing from their arsenal.

They might've traded for a player who will be unavailable. The Las Vegas Review Journal reported Thursday night that the Raiders are concerned the NFL will discipline Bryant. The report also states discipline is believed to stem from poor standing with the substance abuse policy.

That would be news to Bryant. As of late Friday morning, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area, the NFL had not notified Bryant about issues with his standing with the league.

An NFL spokesman declined comment when asked if the league was considering discipline for Bryant.

Bryant violated the NFL substance abuse policy multiple times while playing in Pittsburgh. The Clemson product has been suspended twice over failed drug tests, and missed the entire 2016 season as a repeat offender of the substance abuse policy.

He was conditionally reinstated prior to the 2017 campaign. The receiver must now follow stringent guidelines, including tests and meetings, to remain compliant with the substance abuse policy. In short, more than a failed drug test can get a player in some trouble.

The NFL Network reports the league has identified an issue with Bryant, but that it is not clear if it will result in a delay in his availability – he was held out for the start of training camp last year with Pittsburgh – if the issue can be simply remedied clerically or if it will result in a suspension. NFL Network also reports Bryant met with the league at its New York office in late April, and was in good standing at that time.

Bryant did not participate in Thursday’s Raiders minicamp practice, the last session of their offseason program.

Bryant has not spoken to the press since April 27, when he said the Raiders trade offered a “clean slate” he planned to maximize.

“I’ve had my difficulties in my past, but I’ve come a long way from that,” Bryant said. “It’s all about keeping the right resources around me and continuing to stay on the right path. I’m going to make sure I get that done.”

Bryant has one season left on his contract, originally signed with Pittsburgh. He has looked good in practices open to the press, flashing great speed and an ability to use his 6-foot, 5-inch frame well.